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Windows Server 2008 - Self-healing NTFS 

Posted By:  David Tesar 
Publish Date: 2/7/2008


Self-healing NTFS is a feature which is currently present in Vista and is also included with Windows Server 2008. There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of it until now with WS2008, so I’m assuming this is because it isn’t really a “wow” end-user feature. However, it is actually a very useful feature as an IT Pro.

Have you ever had some weird disk or system behavior on your system volume, discovered or believed it was disk corruption, and then ran “chkdsk c: /f” on it only to get that lovely message:
Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts (Y/N)”?
Although you’ll still get this message if you try to run the command in Vista/WS08, you should never or rarely get to the point where you would need to - due to self-healing NTFS.

By default in Server 2008, self-healing NTFS is turned on and automatically detects and recovers/repairs/removes corruptions on the NTFS volume, boot sector, or files. It does this on the When any of these repairs are done, it will log a NTFS source event in the system event log (so far I’ve only seen the # 130 and 55 event IDs).

Self-Healing-NTFS-130-small

So the next thing you may be thinking is: It’s going to possibly remove/delete a corrupted file someone is using on the disk? What if I lose data?

The way I like to look at is – if the file is corrupted, it’s gone anyway and you can look at what was removed in the logs. Furthermore, there is a good possibility self-healing NTFS can fix the issue without the user ever even knowing there is a problem and you get all of the overall benefits listed below.

However, just for those who don’t want the automatic repair/deletions, there is a way to turn it on/off. It’s a pretty simple command: “fsutil repair set c: 0” where c: represents the volume you’d like to turn in off. Replace the 0 with a 1 and it will turn it back on the drive. When you turn it off, it will notify you a file is corrupt but do nothing to fix it.

Overall benefits (rephrased from the Changes in functionality from WS2003 SP1 guide below):
· Runs without requiring reboots on all volumes, except in extreme corruption conditions
· Preserves as much data as possible - based on the type of corruption
· Reduces failed file system mounting requests
· Provides better reporting for file system changes
· Recovers volumes when boot sector is readable, but no NTFS volume identified
· Validates and preserves data with critical system files

 

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Changes in Functionality from Windows Server 2003 with SP1 to Windows Server 2008 (http) ( doc version)
Blogger who listed this feature as one of top 10 features of Server 2008 “facts beyond the fluff”
Mark Russinovich’s Kernel Changes in Server 2008 – Self-healing NTFS is mentioned in a single slide at 23:10.